Brief backstory and context: I grew up with a very “relaxed” Christian family. I was often discouraged, heavily, from pursuing my own spiritual journey despite them saying they were “open-minded.”
I have a close friend, we’ll say J. J’s family is either dead or too far away to be contacted. He’s lost his father and grandfather two years ago. I met and basically adopted him. We consider each other brothers. My parents adore him.
I’ve been a Jew (Reform) for a couple years. Last two years, I spent Hanukkah by myself, and had to hide my menorah/Torah/Talmud from my folks. Not a fun holiday when you only have online friends (who are not Jewish, but give me support all the same).
J, however. This morning, as I was packing for work, asked when Hanukkah is this year. I told him, and right after I did, he kinda mumbled and asked, “can I join you? Sorry if it’s weird to ask, if you want to do it alone that’s okay.”
I practically dropped everything in my arms and bear-hugged him while hollering at the top of my lungs. It never even crossed my mind to ask if he’d like to join in. I’m used to doing my worship alone. (No local synagogue to speak of, I live out in rural Bible Belt territory.) Over lunch I explained the holiday to him and had to talk him out of buying another menorah, since I have one from my wife (brand new, painted rainbow. I love her).
It’s almost making me tear up. I HATED doing holidays alone, especially Rosh Hashanah and Hanukkah. Those (and other holidays but especially those) are for family, and having no one living around me to celebrate with has been agony on my soul.
Maybe I’m overreacting, but this has honestly been such a good day after weeks of awful ones.